Let's Not Settle for Modest Minimum Wage Hike

Friday, 23 Mar 2012 09:59 AM

By Deroy Murdock

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From coast to coast, politicians want to hike the minimum wage. New York State legislators aim to lift it from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour. California lawmakers are weighing a boost from $8 to $8.50.

Ralph Nader recently urged the Occupy movement to demand that the federal floor increase from $7.25 to $10.

Ralph Nader wants to raise the minimum wage to $10.
(Getty Images)
Former Gov. Willard Mitt Romney, R-Mass., told CNBC's Larry Kudlow on March 6, "There's probably not a need to raise the minimum wage."

In January, however, Gov. Etch-a-Sketch said he would "allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time."

Tragically, these proposals don't go far enough.

What America needs is the economic equivalent of a 24-hour energy drink. Why not a $100-an-hour minimum wage?

If every worker legally were guaranteed this amount, just imagine the possibilities.

Assuming 52 weeks of labor at 40 hours each, every American would earn at least $208,000 annually.

This sum literally would move the typical American from rank-and-file to rich. Today's $40,584 average individual income would quintuple. Why? Because Washington said so.

Rather than a nation in which the top 1 percent fears the rage of the 99 percent, Americans could live harmoniously, because 100 percent of workers would occupy, at worst, the top 3 percent. Thus, Class War I would conclude peacefully after it barely began.

Even greater benefits would flow like honey, if not like pancake syrup.

With at least $208,000 to spend annually, each worker could buy tons of luxury goods. Tiffany's, Nordstrom's and Coach stores could stay open 24/7 as hundreds of millions of Americans suddenly could afford their previously pricey products.

The Four Seasons could fill every suite. And the airlines could add extra first-class seats, because travelling up front would become affordable for everyone with a paycheck.

This super stimulus would propel America's GDP to Himalayan heights. A $100-per-hour minimum wage would give America's 133 million workers at least $27.7 trillion in combined buying power — every year.

Of course, this figure will climb even higher as this hefty new wage inspires virtually everyone not working to flood the labor market. With all the money that employers will make in increased sales, it will be a snap for them to hire America's 12.8 million jobless people, at a minimum cost of some $2.7 trillion annually. At long last, this will end, not mend, unemployment.

And consider the windfall for the government. The U.S. Tax Code could establish a 33 percent tax rate on everyone earning $208,000. Irrespective of deductions, this would translate into roughly $9.1 trillion in income tax revenues every year. This Niagara Falls of cash could help Uncle Sam pay his bills. Bye-bye, national debt!

Now, some party poopers might argue that the government has no right to tell employers how much to pay their employees. However, these naysayers forget that the minimum-wage law says nothing about how much to pay, just how little. Employers certainly could pay employees more than $100 per hour.

Others may wonder where employers would find the money to finance this modest proposal. This question is impertinent and perhaps a little bit racist. Far worse, it lacks imagination. After all, imagination settled the American West, whisked Americans to the moon, and even invented Strawberry Daiquiri Jell-O. Where there's a will, Americans find a way.

Amid such myopia, simply listen to George Bernard Shaw. As he famously put it: "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'" With words like that, who needs a magic wand?

A $10 or even $12 hourly minimum wage represents the kind of small-mindedness that subverts the American Experience. One hundred dollars an hour reflects the boldness that built these United States. And just imagine the beauty of a $1,000-an-hour minimum wage.

Come on, America. Think big. Think really, really big!

Deroy Murdock is a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com. Read more reports from Deroy Murdock — Click Here Now.

© Scripps Howard News Service

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